Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Life on a High Hill

Sometimes, in all my enthusiastic zest for living, for crises, for change, for getting through, I forget not everyone is built that way.

Some people are built so differently that they have trouble with things we all take for granted.

Some people I love suffer from depression.

I can see it in some of my family and some of my closest companions. It's probably more common that any of us realize -- one in five adults, or maybe more, are coping with some degree of depression.

It's hard for me to imagine how immobilizing it can be. There have always been people close to me with it. Men and women, young and old, successful and flailing about. It's really, really debilitating.

When I was young, my heart broke rather easily. I still cry at movie trailers -- I'm a hopeless romantic (the one for "Bobby" sent me right over the edge) in the classic, epic sense, not so much at the one-on-one level but the Walt Whitman level. (Whitman I believe also suffered from depression.) The thing is, I can always get up out of bed, I can always laugh, I can always, always find a way to sing, work, play, write, dance, live.

This is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. It's by a band called Uncle Walt's Band, which I knew nothing about, of course, until the fated Sugar Hill acquisition. It is truly, truly exceptionally beautiful for its raw poignancy. The first time I heard it, it really did take my breath away.

I wanted to share it with you because I think that sometimes this sense of isolation and regret must be what depression feels like. It's hard to love someone and not really be able to help. This song helps me understand that the people I care about who are fighting a battle on a level I can't even see still deserve my love, and even moreso.

I'm going to learn more about this disease, because I suspect it's going to come into play more and more frequently. I really believe that the music in my life has made a huge difference in my ability to buck it myself, and has always enabled me to turn my focus outward and toward something positive. People we love who are depressed cannot do that.

Educate yourself. Reach out. And remember that love is not conditional. It's an action.


I just learned that beautiful Walter Hyatt, the voice of Uncle Walt's Band, was killed in a plane crash in 1996, in the Florida Everglades. This has rather undone me, so I'd really appreciate it if you'd go out and get this tune and add it to your collection. Where he might have gone, where his songs might have taken others, will remain forever a mystery. But we have this one, this glorious anthem.

Why do all the good ones die in plane crashes?

High Hill

(I don't know all the words, and I can't find them, so you'll have to suffer through my transcription. I'm sure there are mistakes so if you know where they are, please help! )

I'm alone in my thoughts while the night winds cry
Tonight I thought I saw some love in your eyes
I was hittin' pretty heavy on the gin and wine
And it's true that you had been on my mind
Do you really want to know how I'm spending my time?
I'm just trying to make the best of your love

I'm holding on now to the potter's wheel
And it's turning me so fast that I don't know what I feel
I could be on a ship at sea, with only my thoughts to burden me
I guess it all depends on where you ought to be
So I'm trying to make the best of your love

I live upon a high hill
Work my hands in wire and wood
And I sing like a whipporwill
And every night there's one thing on my mind
Only that you'll love me until the day I die
If you love me then, you know I would not mind

Everything I do, everything I feel
Is coming back to me in an endless reel
Like a movie I don't wanna see,
'cause I know about the man and his misery
You're the only one who remains a mystery
Got me tryin' to make the best of your love

I live upon a high hill
Work my hands in wire and wood
And I sing like a whipporwill
And every night there's one thing on my mind
Only that you'll love me until the day I die
And if you love me then, you know I would not mind


At January 28, 2007 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your kind thoughts and words. We make a daily effort to keep alive the music of Walter Hyatt and the Uncle Walt's Band. In fact we're now working on a project cataloging years of UWB live recordings. As good as they were in the studio, they were amazing live.
'High Hill' is a DesChamp Hood song. Unfortunately Champ passed on Nov 3, 2001 but his son Warren Hood, who is based in Austin, is carrying on the family tradition.
David Ball lives in Nashville and has a successful career as a Country Music Artist.
Best wishes,

At January 28, 2007 4:51 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

It means so much that you stopped by and took the time to share your experience here. I'm so sorry to hear the person who wrote this powerful tune is gone now, too. I wish I could have heard this band, and maybe through your preservation of the live performances we'll get to taste a little of that. So often I feel like I'm arriving at the best kept secrets of music just two minutes too late. Thanks for keeping this music in front of us for many future listeners to discover.

At December 20, 2007 12:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Some Unfinished Business, Volume One', Walter Hyatt's first CD in 15 years, will be out 1-22-08. You can find it at
All the best,
David D


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